05/31/2012 12:13PM

Northlands: Diodoro tries to stay on top with help from Arctic Ceal

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After 12 days of racing there is a close race developing for leading trainer at Northlands Park. Greg Tracy, Robertino Diodoro and Ron Grieves are all tied with seven wins apiece.

Grieves could move to the lead on Saturday with three horses entered compared to one for Diodoro and none for Tracy. All three horses Grieves entered, Trust in Time in the third, Cruzenforchicks in the sixth, and Rum Chase in the seventh, look very live.

In the seventh race, though, a six furlong maiden special weight race for 3-year-olds that drew 10 horses, the horse to beat is Arctic Ceal, who is trained by Diodoro.

Diodoro was the leading trainer at Northlands in 2010 and he finished second to Joan Petrowski last year. He isn’t sure he has the horses to stay in the race for leading trainer the whole year, though. Diodoro had a strong contingent of horses at the recently concluded Turf Paradise meet where he finished second in the standings with 70 wins.

“We raced hard and had a pretty good meet in Phoenix,” said Diodoro by phone from Santa Anita. “A lot of the horses we had down there are going to need a break.”

The main reason for Diodoro’s increased presence at Turf Paradise is the closure of Stampede Park in Calgary. The last meet at Stampede Park was in 2008.

“A lot of our southern Alberta owners would rather take a 3 1/2-hour flight to Phoenix where it’s warm and sunny in the winter than drive five hours to Edmonton to watch their horses run in the summer,” said Diodoro.

Arctic Ceal, who finished second in a $30,000 optional maiden race in his debut at Turf Paradise May 1, should be a heavy favorite. Diodoro isn’t sure the track configuration at Northlands will suit him, however.

“He’s a big horse and I think he will be a lot better horse on a mile track,” said Diodoro. “He’s an Alberta-bred, though, and so far he has handled the track well. Hopefully he’ll handle it just as well during a race.”

Jorge Carreno rides Arctic Ceal.

Rum Chaser is coming off a fast-closing second in a maiden special weight race at Northlands May 21 and looks like the main threat.

He will be ridden by Stephan Heiler, who is the leading rider at the meet with 16 wins, two more than apprentice Scott Williams.